Calling all boat lovers! Maritime Fest is almost here!

Don’t have a boat or know someone that does? That’s okay. Maritime Fest has that covered and much more. The 19th annual Maritime Fest will be held on Saturday, August 27, 2011 and Sunday, August 28, 2011 from 10 am to 6 pm.

Maritime Fest includes free fun for the whole family. Maritime gives you the opportunity to partake in the following activities: walk the docks and board over 20 boats or ships, kids boat building, paddle board and canoe races, free admission to Foss Waterway Seaport, Kid’s Zone and Pirates, beer garden, entertainment stage, free army landing craft rides, Quick and Dirty boat building race, port tour departure (Sunday only), and a train ride.

Claire Petrich, Founder/Chair of Maritime Fest, has taken on this volunteer job for the past 19 years. She explained the history of how Maritime Fest came about, “20 years ago, one weekend there was a port tour another weekend there was an open house for working boats. On another weekend fishing boats came to Petrich marine dock and had a picnic. A few days after all those things happened, I thought to myself why don’t we put these activities together and create a festival in one weekend where more people can enjoy it and come to the waterfront and celebrate everything about the working waterfront in Tacoma. The port citizens for a healthy bay (website) and a few other people got together…planned the Maritime Fest. The clean green boating festival merged with maritime fest. The clean green boating festival was held for two years and wanted a bigger presence. One of the best parts about that is that we are able to provide a scholarship (funding) to a high school class who will be going out on a sailing expedition to learn about the environment in the Puget Sound. (It was a three day event for 30 kids). They had to write an essay about Puget Sound. Gig Harbor high school won. Student from the environmental club and her club will be the winners of it. One essay, two kids wrote it together, which will provide this experience for 30 people. Surrounding Pierce County schools were welcome to apply.”

Claire added, “[I] come from a boat building family and I manage a dock on the Foss Waterway and have served on the Tacoma Port Commission for 15 years. I have saltwater in my veins.”

When asked what she was most looking forward to with Maritime Fest, Claire replied, “I’m always looking forward to the new things we’re able to do such as this year we’re gonna have a lot of paddle boarders, canoeists, and kayakers demonstrating and having races at the festival we’re gonna have movies in a box (using a container driving down the highway that carry freight a great big one at the festival with a movie theater showing maritime movies). We have a great kid’s zone this year and we’re gonna have remote operated boats (small boats in a small pond) and also larger boats that will be remote controlled in the bay which is actually going to be really cool. The Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain (tall ships of Washington State) will be visiting. The highlight [of the festival] is always the Quick and Dirty boat building on Saturday afternoon.”

Claire discussed the best thing about the festival, “Absolutely everything of it is wonderful; the best thing that it’s a family fun event that it gives people of all ages the opportunity to “touch the water” learn about world trade, learn about the history of the waterfront, learn about our environment, have fun with the music and the performances the quick and dirty boat races. I love the fact that people over this community come together to create an event that is focused on the Puget Sound. The collaboration among so many different entities that make up Maritime Fest that’s what is fun. There’s the seaport museum, the tugboats, there’s the port and Tacoma rail there are artists and artisans businesses, small businesses, and non profits, musicians, dancers and singers who are all celebrating the waterfront and sea scouts. The sponsors: Maritime Fest is an activity of the youth marine foundation. Works with teenagers who are sea scouts who learn about navigation, boat handling, and care of boats through the sailing ship, the Odyssey (name of sailing ship) and the motor vessel “Curtis”.”

Claire shared what many people may not know about Maritime Fest, “It happens because of volunteers. Something new every year (it changes every year). This year the paddle boards are all new (new event this year).”

When asked who she recommended attend the event, Claire replied, “Nobody should stay away.” Claire also recommends her family and friends, “Absolutely, because it’s fun and it’s an opportunity you don’t get every day and there might be pirates there, too.”

Lisa Longe, Executive Assistant for the Tacoma Maritime Fest, expressed what she’s looking forward to with Maritime Fest, “Probably the tall ships they’re majestic, and like I said before one of them is from the Pirates of the Caribbean (the movie itself) really cool a big draw. We might have pirates to go along with the pirate ships. Just a lot of pieces that’s going on that I’m looking forward to because I had my hands in forming it.”

She shared how Maritime Fest is unique compared to other festivals, “The marriages of so many different activities and some festivals have certain elements or others and we have them altogether.”

When asked who she recommended to the event, Lisa replied, “Everybody, it’s an event of all ages something for everyone to do young and old different types of activities for each age group. Get a chance to learn something new and that’s really everybody can learn.” She recommends her family and friends as well, “Definitely! Family friendly event…lots of activities to do and see.”

Claire did want to share an important message for those who may need assistance boarding the boats, “Boarding the boats if you need ADA accessible the boat tour on Sunday the Goodtime II (boat tour) and are on wheelchair the 4 pm sailing is the easiest to board the boat (ramp isn’t as steep) when tide is high ramp is less steep).”

Claire suggested people park their vehicles at Freighthouse Square in downtown Tacoma and to ride the light rail and exit at the Theater District Station located at Commerce Street and South 9th Street and catch the yellow school bus which will take you directly to the festival.

There will also be the opportunity to ride a steam engine train ride of Tide Flats for free. Claire mentioned there would be vendors for, “Everything; elephant ears to teriyaki.” For more information visit: “You might meet someone from the deadliest catch (television show on the Discovery channel) or you might meet a pirate or you meet an octopus. Catch a fish (catch and release tank). Buy a beer and eat a lot,” Claire concluded.

Plan to attend the 19th annual Maritime Fest, and mark it high on your agenda. It promises to be a fantastic event for all members of your family and friends.